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    LGBTQ+ Athlete Advocates Corporate Pride

    By John Chen–

    “I am very lucky that my workplace is one of inclusion and diversity. Our corporate LGBTQ+ acceptance and advocacy policies gave me the courage to come out, offered me support and resources, and afforded me with educational advancement and equal opportunities as an openly gay employee. Now I am sharing my story and taking a leadership role in the continuing efforts of advocating for and building corporate LGBTQ+ inclusion, visibility, and empowerment.”

    —Vinny DiCicco

    Hawaii-born Vinny DiCicco grew up surfing, body boarding, kayaking, swimming, and playing volleyball on pristine tropical beaches. DiCicco particularly loved swimming and said with a slight sassy grin, “I did breaststroke, back stroke, front stroke, etc. If there’s stroking involved, I did it. Also, being around practically naked guys with amazing bodies all the time, why wouldn’t I take up swimming? But I was closeted and didn’t feel comfortable with the stigma of being a homosexual. I thought gay equated to perversion, not love and relationships. So, I didn’t allow myself to have any positive gay experiences such as friends and a support system.”

    Vinny DiCicco

    After high school, DiCicco moved to California and attended California Polytechnical University San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) majoring in mechanical engineering. The decision was a no-brainer. Sunny California offered a similar outdoor lifestyle and had prestigious schools in his chosen field of study. Although he was academically successful and continued to swim and play volleyball at the club level, DiCicco stayed in the closet keeping one step ahead of one fast-gaining truth.

    Not just brawn, DiCicco had brains too. After college, DiCicco immediately got an offer from PG&E to work in the Bay Area as an Energy Solutions Engineer assisting the likes of Google, Apple, and Genentech to run more efficiently.

    DiCicco recounted his early days in the Bay Area: “Career-wise, I had an excellent start. Socially, I was still in the closet, but continued to play sports such as indoor and beach volleyball and took up mountain biking and paddle boarding. In what was kind of serendipitous or foreshadowing if you will, through open gyms I was invited to play a NAGVA (North America Gay Volleyball Association) tournament in San Jose without knowing what NAGVA stood for. I competed as one of the many straight allies.”

    DiCicco continued, “Competing in gay volleyball tournaments as an ‘ally’ helped me to gain my first and first-hand gay positive experience where being gay is not a perversion, and there exists a support system. At the same time, I learned that PG&E has a strong and one of the oldest corporate LGBTQ+ resource groups called the PrideNetwork. For a couple of years, I cautiously joined PrideNetwork under the guise of an ‘ally.’ Over time, I met many highly visible and successful out and proud coworkers and leaders both at PG&E and other major companies. And through all the nonjudgmental interactions, community work, and positive support, I gained great confidence and pride about being gay and realized it was time. I came out. I was inspired, energized, hugged, and accepted.”

    Soon after he came out, DiCicco became a PrideNetwork Board Member where he was a regional lead for San Jose and Sacramento educating members on LGBTQ+ history, accomplishments, pride, as well as outreach, community building, and engagement.

    DiCicco said he wanted to do more for the LGBTQ+ community. “A couple of years ago, I became the Director of Pride Celebrations where my team led a corporate-wide effort to increase LGBTQ+ community visibility, direction, and support. Every Pride celebration we attend and sponsor advocates for LGBTQ+ voices and equality. Since my company serves the people, it makes sense that our philanthropic philosophies, goals, and resources are interwoven into the community. And I am proud to carry that torch on behalf of the PrideNetwork.”

    Last year, 2022, for the first time since 2019 (pre-pandemic), DiCicco and his PrideNetwork team attended and advocated, supported and sponsored, mingled and marched in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento, and Fresno Pride celebrations decked out proudly in all colors of the rainbow. This year, 2023, look for DiCicco and his team, especially during June Pride Month out in full force.

    John Chen, a UCLA alumnus and an avid sports fan, has competed as well as coached tennis, volleyball, softball, and football teams.

    Published on June 22, 2023